WASHINGTON —Sen. Harry Reid bid farewell to the Senate Thursday after 30 years in the chamber and more than a decade as top Democrat, a remarkable run during which he shepherded key Obama administration legislation including the sweeping health care law.

But Reid leaves with his Democrats stuck in the minority despite his best efforts, and Republicans and President-elect Donald Trump making plans to repeal President Obama’s signature law as their first order of business next year.

In an uncharacteristically lengthy and personal farewell speech on the Senate floor, Reid warned of “a new gilded age” ahead and lamented how the Senate has changed. He cautioned colleagues to “temper” use of the filibuster, “otherwise, it will be gone.”

“I hope that everyone would do everything they can to protect the Senate as an institution,” he said. “As part of our Constitution, it should be given the dignity it deserves.”

Later, at a ceremony to unveil his portrait, Reid was lauded by Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Reid’s successor as Senate Minority Leader, New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer. The audience was full of political leaders past and present, from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s first chief of staff, to former Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, who retired after criticism for supporting the health care law.

Reid recognized both as he spoke of a high point of his Senate career, that first congressional term under Obama, when Democrats briefly commanded control of the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. That allowed them to push through a raft of legislation including the economic stimulus, the health care bill and a financial overhaul. Reid declared it the most productive legislative session in history. “We worked so hard. We delivered big-time,” he recollected.

One by one, Biden, Clinton and the rest paid tribute to the soft-spoken, stoop-shouldered Reid, a taciturn master of the inside game. “That’s you, Harry – always, always, there,” Biden said.

Clinton, making her first visit to Capitol Hill since losing the presidential race, said of Reid’s new portrait: “The more fitting portrait will be the one that goes in the dictionary next to the word ‘fighter.”‘

The portrait, painted by a young artist, Gavin Glakas, who once worked on Reid’s staff, shows the senator in a typical posture: seated at his desk at work.


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